Fangs but no fangs: bid to honour author of Dracula falls victim to Irish cash woes

We'll have the statue if you pay, Dublin city fathers tell Bram Stoker's descendants. David McKittrick reports

A campaign is under way to have a statue of the creator of Count Dracula – one of Gothic horror's most fascinating characters – erected in his native city of Dublin.

Many do not realise that Bram Stoker, author of the book Dracula, was an Irishman who spent much of his life in Dublin. In fact several of the numerous Draculesque theories maintain that his creation is grounded not just in Transylvania but in Irish folklore.

The statue proposal, which came from Dacre Stoker, the author's great-great-nephew, has found initial favour with Dublin Council's advisers.

But, since the Irish economy might these days be described as close to undead, the statue project – planned to coincide with the centenary of the author's death in 2012 – will only go ahead if the Stoker family can find the money for it. According to a council spokesman, a life-size statue would cost around €100,000 (£90,000).

In Dublin, Bram Stoker is certainly known as an Irish writer, though it might be said he is acknowledged rather than celebrated.

"It's an oversight. There is no permanent memorial in his home city to this guy," Dacre Stoker, who lives in South Carolina, United States, told Reuters.

During his lifetime, from 1847 to 1912, Bram Stoker was better known for handling the business affairs of Sir Henry Irving, the great English actor-manager, than for his own writing.

But in later years his creation has lodged in the popular psyche worldwide. Described as the founding text of the modern vampire myth, the book has never been out of print since the first edition was published in 1897.

It has also exercised a strong fascination first for the theatre and later for film and on television. Hundreds of actors have played the bloodthirsty count in hundreds of productions, sometimes as straight horror such as in the 1922 film, Nosferatu, an unauthorised version of the book; and occasionally as send-up, as in George Hamilton's portrayal of an urbane, fanged sophisticate in Love At First Bite (1979).

Dracula is associated with the Transylvanian folk figure also known as Vlad the Impaler. And many of the characteristics of Stoker's incarnation can be traced to the book Land Beyond the Forest, published nine years before the Irishman's work.

Stoker never visited Transylvania – Vienna was as far east as he got – though he carried out a lot of research on Romania in the British Museum and elsewhere.

But at least part of his inspiration may have come from closer to home, partly from visits to Scottish castles. A visit to the crypt of a Dublin church made a particularly strong impression on him. He may also have drawn on an earlier work by Irish writer Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu which – extremely daringly for Victorian times – featured a lesbian vampire.

Another highly political theory has it that the Dracula tale is a metaphor for heartless landlords sucking the blood and life out of their tenants during the Great Famine of the 19th century, and that the undead represent starving peasants.

Another approach has it that Stoker's Dracula was based on a great tyrant and wizard, based in the north of Ireland, who back in the mists of Irish legend was killed by his people. Dracula-like, he rose from the dead and demanded a bowl of blood from his people to sustain himself. He was slain again but came back demanding more blood. To despatch him permanently he was killed with a sword made of yew wood, buried upside down and covered with a large rock. Today the rock has a tree beside it and, it is claimed, anyone who tries to cut it down experiences strange and inexplicable events and sometimes accidents.

Over the years Stoker enthusiasts in Dublin have kept his memory alive with collections, exhibitions, conferences and newsletters. But with so many myths and legends floating around, there is clearly scope for a closer identification of ghouls, garlic and Gothic with Gaelic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before